How to Write an Effective Brief for your Software Development Project

Planning to outsource your bespoke software project? Craft a precise brief! Discover what to include, ensuring time-saving clarity for your chosen development partner and paving the path for project success.

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If you’re planning on building a bespoke software project, and have decided to outsource the development of your project to a trusted software development house, you will need to provide the development house with a brief.

Choosing the correct tech partner is an important step to make before compiling your project brief, however in this blog post we will cover what to include in your brief and why this information is required, because let’s face it, time is money and a well-defined brief will save time down the line when dealing with your chosen development house.

What should my brief contain?

Project Goals

This defines the problems that your software application plans to solve and why this problem needs solving. The idea here is to give the development house a better understanding of the purpose for the software, the business challenge and the proposed software solution.

Avoid using overly vague statements such as “I want to build an app to help my business with job tracking”, this is simply not descriptive enough for the development house to understand what the requirements are. Conversely, a 10 page detailed business goals document is too much information to get to grips with the purpose of the project.

Try to explain what you want to build and why you want to build it as concisely as possible. An example could be: “Our business has a paper based job tracking system, this system is outdated and difficult to manage and therefore, we would like to build an easy-to-use web application to replace the paper based system.”

Project Requirements (Scope)

Now that we understand what the project goals are, next we need to define how to reach said goals. We do this with project requirements. Project Requirements can be broken up into 2 types:

Technical Requirements – in this section you should define what platforms your application will run on (web, mobile, desktop). You should also list any specific platforms and programming languages that you need the development house to use.

Functional Requirements – functional requirements are best written as user stories. A user story is a natural language description of a feature written from the perspective of an end user. As a user story template, you should use something along the lines of: “As a <role> I can <capability>, so that <receive benefit>”.

From your list of technical and functional requirements, the software development house can create a formal scope which outlines the features required to build your project.

Project Timeline

Should you have a deadline or specific timeline for the launch of your project, outline the specific dates in this section. You might also have milestones that you would like to be complete by specific dates.

Note that your development house may not be able to complete your project in your specified timeframe, this could be for various reasons. The development house could be inundated with other project work and can only complete the project after your deadline. The other reason could be that your timelines are unreasonable for the project, and they should be altered.

Project Budget

If you already have a budget for your project, then great, this is where you put your project budget.

Custom software development can be expensive if there are too many features and requirements. With your budget in mind, your development house can recommend removing certain non core/critical features which still meets your project goals. This is done in order to fit the project scope into your budget.

Final Thoughts

Drafting a comprehensive project brief can seem daunting at first, especially if you have never drafted one before. Hopefully this guide has helped to alleviate the unknowns.

When drafting your project brief, take your time and think it through. A well drafted and considered project brief might take longer upfront, but will save time and money later on in the project.

Finding a development house who are capable and trustworthy is paramount to your project’s eventual success, here at Appstrax, passion, trust, teamwork and co-creation are our core beliefs.

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